Morel season is about the same time of year as Mother’s Day where we live. On Mother’s Day weekend our small community throws its annual mushroom festival which usually marks the beginning of morel season in our area. For these three days people from all around the surrounding areas come out to celebrate this weird wild fungus, playing morel-inspired games and wandering through the wilderness to hunt for the biggest morels they can find.
Whether enjoying the hunt and being out in the spring woods, or willing to pay the $40 per pound price tag, one thing’s for sure, the morels get a lot of people excited.
Where do we look for morels? A few places we have had luck are old apple orchards, near dead or alive elm trees, and underneath aspens. Some people find them in old campfires among the charcoal. Look carefully because they like to blend in. The weather really determines whether you’ll have a great morel season or not. Morels fruit when the days are consistently around 60 degrees and nights are consistently around 40. Spring rains help too.
As with all wild foods, make sure you have a good identification guide. False morels are a real thing, but they’re easily identified if you know what your looking for.
And always remember that you have to cook your mushrooms. Don’t eat them raw.
Also wash them well. See all those wrinkly crevices in the top part of the morel? Dirt tends to stick in those. Some people say to soak them in salt for a day, which is what we typically do. This not only helps wash all the dirt out of the crevices, but it has the extra advantage of suspending a bunch of the mushroom spores in the water. We tend to stick this water in a container so we can spread it outside on the ground later and help grow more mushrooms next year.
How do we cook them? We like creamy morel soup and even sauteing them with wild leeks. They are tasty, but in our personal opinion there are other wild mushrooms in the woods that we like even better.
Up here, the weather is still good for finding them, but not for long.
How do you eat a morel?